Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 review


Flooded rivers (like 2022) started the year. I didn't fancy trying for a barbel, it might have been possible as it was a barmy 10 degrees. Instead I went for a few hours to Tilcon. It was hard going as I am not much of a winter stillwater angler. I stuck it out and enjoyed the few hours. A micro perch and one about half a pound reward for my efforts. The perch certainly got rewards too! 

Some time down in Dorset followed but when I was back I hit the Swale. Nine degrees when I left the house but there was ice on the field as I crossed to the river. 
Bread, cheese paste and maggots as bait. Caught big trout on all three! Plenty of good sized grayling found the net too, but actually hampered by the trout to be honest. They eat everything!! 

The end of the month and what a great trip. Only a few fish caught but the first time I took both kids to the river. It was a cold day, but both caught grayling on the float. Some great trotting, feeding and striking by both. Rupe christened his new rod with a strong fighting trout on cheese paste. We so hoped it was a chub. 


A quick session on the Tees with the feeder rod and one small skimmer was all I could catch. Lots of bites but I couldn't connect. If I was missing bites on the float, I get excited. On the feeder, I just get frustrated! How can they pull the rod and not be hooked!? Answers on a postcard......


The final session on the river season had me back on the Tees. Some brown crumb added to the groundbait was a great trick. Alternating between that in the feeder and then maggot feeder eventually got the fish feeding. Roach, perch, a skimmer and then a bleak/dace hybrid!?! Let's say a blace. 


One from one on the first day of April. Imagine fishing every day of a month!? I remember when I fished 8 days in a row in. That was fun, anyway I digress. I fished Tilcon on April fools day. I had the lake to myself, maybe something to do with the rain. I caught a good few fish including ide and gudgeon. A great day.

The kitchen scales joined me on my next trip as I wanted to weigh the little fellas. We tend to weigh just the biggest, but thought it would be interesting to weigh the smaller fish, just to know. Ended up with some three, four, five and seven and a half ounce silvers. A great days fishing. 


A blank holiday Monday started the month off. Tom and I went to Tilcon. We shared a swim, chatted about everything and generally chilled. Tom had a nice bream on the feeder, I blanked whilst float fishing sweetcorn. The sun came out and it was roasting. When Tom left, the heavens opened and I was soon drenched. I left chuckling about "fair weather anglers". Some weeks later it was back to Tilcon for more of the same. I was going to help with the work party at 10am so arrived at 5am to get a few hours relaxing fishing in. Catching some nice tench on the float it was relaxing, two carp picking up the single piece of corn on a size 14 to 3lb line however was not so relaxing! Both smashed me up, resulting in expletives and retackling often. It was a nice morning fishing though and after a good few hours of manual labour in the hot sun, it was off for home for a cool shower and a relax. These hands are not used to manual labour!

A few afternoon hours after work on Tilcon was a good distraction from stuff. Lots of fish swimming around and plenty of bites. Nothing hooked though, but I left relaxed. 


A line was not wet in June. There was a lot going on with Davey, chemo and hospice stay. He endured the cancer since diagnosis mid December but with no help from the chemo it was an uphill battle. He went into Weldmar hospice at the beginning of June and sadly died at the end of June. It proved there is more to life than fishing, but I definitely look back on the times we fished together with great fondness. Love you always dad. 


My first trip for over two months. Was a bit rusty but made the most of it. A lot of sitting, some fishing. Mashed bread and flake on the float worked well, I wanted to persist with this in the future.  Highlights were chilli sausage bait and a non blank!! 


The family fishing trip in Dorset this year was a little different. The water was salty! 
An hour spent for Mackerel was the plan, it turned into poor cod catching over a wreck. We caught eight fish between the four of us and thoroughly enjoyed the change of tactics! I still managed to get snagged and lost some tackle though. That does not change. 

Back up North and it was back to the Tees. I sat behind the feeder whilst the maggot or worm did its business. A cold wind and drizzle made the day uncomfortable. Casting the usual distance brought no bites, I then shortened the cast and a small skimmer and a perch soon started to warm me. A pike grabbing the feeder on the retrieve made for an interesting few minutes. It ended when the 2.5lb hook link snapped or got bitten through. 
The following day I was back on the Tees, this time with the float rod. 100 fish was enough to keep my mind off no morning cup of tea. It was topped off by a 1lb 4oz perch, same swim, similar size. I think the same fish..


A trip south had the potential for a couple of trips.  Zander the target on the canals around Coventry on the way down and barbel the target on a small London river. 
A wet day whilst walking on the canal, a lot of casting and lots of plastic removed from the canal. I am still not sure I am great at lure fishing but I dragged jigs and the like slowly across the bottom.  It wasn't a total blank, I caught a cap and a football amongst the plastic debris! 

A few beers and food with friends once I finally made it to London and the following day it was barbel fishing. Jar (Alan) and I jumped in a zip car and drove to the usual spot. We walked a fair few miles, looked, even with binoculars and saw no barbel!!
Eventually we spotted something decent, Brian!
He knows the river well and agreed the area we had been showed little fish action. He took us somewhere else and soon we were watching 14 fish in one swim! I cast in and watched a barbel focus on the bread, swim 15ft, push a chub out the way and take the bread! A 6lb 11oz fish soon in the net. 

There was another swim he showed us too. It was amazing, proper stalking. The casting was difficult, and I would of loved to fish it more. However, I put my hand on some nettles and couldn't really focus on anything else! 
First trip of 2023 with Ellis. Was great to catch up and catch fish. About 100 caught between us. Nothing huge, but fun all the same. All float caught in fairly pacey water on maggot or worm. Bread didn't do us any good! I fished the fast bits while Ellis the slack - there is a witty comment here about "life in the fast lane, or slow lane", but I wont go into that, especially as Ellis is a lot more active than me!!
Dace and chub still confuse us, but the perch and gudgeon were easy!

A chilled session at Tilcon followed the following weekend. I could not tempt anything except perch. Ten in  total found the net, well, were swung in! Some were the size of my little finger! 


A trip with the kids to the Swale in search of chub and grayling. We waited until the river was  fishable and in it's bank, last week it wasn't! Unfortunately with waiting, it had turned really cold. Single figures and a biting wind, meant for much fun but no fish. Well, some minnows for the kids and Heart Christmas on the radio being the highlights. 
The actual highlight which didn't make the blog entry was on the drive home. When we passed over the Swale and I pointed it to Rupe,  he thought we had been fishing on the Tees all day! Let's hope he doesn't take geography GCSE!! 

The month ended with a trip to a new section of the Wharfe. Ellis and I fished at Tadcaster, home of John  Smiths. Yummy! The day might have been better if we sat drinking in the brewery. No barbel caught but definitely noted for another time. A great stretch of river. 


A cold, Tees trip for Ellis and I. Tom venturing alone in search for pike. A blank for me, one pike for Ellis and an 18lb pb pike for Tom! 
Pike pals all around. Definitely need to review my cold water tactics, can't rely on chub on cheese paste all my life!! Nice to put some steps in and catch up with Ellis. Did he win that lottery yet!?? 

A lot fewer trips this year, due to family commitments. Some things in life are just more important. Hoping for more success in 2024 - See you there! 

Saturday 11 November 2023

Title intentionally left blank

Date fished 11/11/2023
8:30am until 3.30pm 

Two blanks from my last two trips, I was starting to get worried. With cold weather now approaching, the fishing was going to get tough. Looking at the conditions, and discussing with Ellis and Tom, a Tees trip was planned. 
What actually happened was Ellis and I went to a club water for pike and chub and Tom headed to an association water in search of pike. More on him later. 

I dropped in to get maggots and met Ellis at the venue at 8.30. A short walk to the river and we saw the frost waiting for us. In truth, the sun came out quite strongly and we both regretted not having sunglasses (for only about five minutes).

Ellis had pike gear and a ledger rod for chub, I had a chub ledger rod and a float rod for ..............

We walked a fair way upstream, avoiding a suicidal pheasant and decided on a spot, in hindsight the wrong spot. A few casts and some leaves caught.
I watched some bubbles move towards me, I knew what it was. An otter surfaced five feet in front of me, did a 360 flip and splashed away. A moment later popping its head out to look at me again. Was great to see. A few more leaves caught, so we moved on. 

Another spot fished, even more leaves caught here, so we headed back to the start of the beat. 
The fact this whole time was a few hours, shows the type of fishing trip we had, the highlight being a new jetty.

However, as always, it's not just about catching. Ellis and I had a good old chat and a giggle as every swim we fished in together. 

Picking a swim we both fancied, and should of started in. We fished again. After a few minutes Ellis's deadbait was away and a spirited pike swimming around in the deep slack. 

As we fished on, I remarked that we had not seen a Kingfisher. Not ten minutes later, one then two flew past, settled on branches opposite and fished there most of the afternoon. They caught more than me too!! 

With that premonition coming true so quick, I then tried my luck with declaring I had not caught a big chub, Ellis quickly announced he had not won the lottery yet! If he's not around tomorrow, he's won and not told us!! 

The phone was soon beeping with news from Tom's "lottery" win. He had caught a tiddler (his words). At 18lb 5oz, ( A new pb) it was a great pike. Well done to him!!

Soon it was getting colder and a quick move to another slack had me clutching for another blank saver. I had already tried and failed to catch a minnow. Ellis and I had both some snags to our tally though. 

It was not to be and the drive home was spent feeling proud of my mates and their pike! And I just got worms, not those kind!! Oh, and three blanks in a row! 

Saturday 28 October 2023

No Nonsense

Date fished 28/10/2023

8am until 4.30pm

100 miles to today's venue. Time to just sit in the car and think about life. Ellis and I decided to fish the Wharfe at Tadcaster today. 

The weather had the rivers up and down but looking online, asking the right questions on Facebook and watching Shane's video all helped us pick this venue!

We arranged to meet at 8.30 but as is my way, I am always early. I arrived just before 8am. Two minutes later Ellis pulled in to the car park. Perfect!!

Feeders in three, four and five ounces were packed, but I actually could of got away with using two ounces. The river was quite slow and looked perfect for a barbel or 12-15! I informed Ellis we would get a net full of five to seven pound fish. He calmed me down and said, let's just see..... 

We walked to the river, three ledger rods between us, plenty of bait of various flavours! The river was full of anglers, I think I counted about 20 at the end of the day, great to see a club full like that. I think it's down to geography, this venue is in the middle of town, so easily accessible, add to that only £5 on the bank and the chance of a good few barbel, I would certainly fish it a lot if I lived closer! 

It was foggy at first and the steep banks very slippery. I manged to clamber down and fish my single rod from a ledge. Ellis opted to cast from the top of the bank with his two and clamber down to land any fish. The baits were soon in the water and we waited patiently. 

A change from luncheon meat to my home made sausage and I got a definite knock. 

We are not sure if the Wharfe is tidal at this point, but soon where I was stood was getting wet. I retreated up the bank. I went to see Ellis, this was not a place we could chat together, we were sat 50 metres apart! 

Can you spot him? 

Whilst we chatted, he had two knocks. One I saw, one he did. Neither his bite alarm noticed! Hoping for more action, I went back to my swim. 

A change of baits and hooklink length made no difference. The barbel were not on the feed. We chatted to some local anglers and even asked Shane for his secrets. It was no good, nothing worked. We just had to keep casting and try harder. 

Some barbel were caught across the stretch by other anglers but sadly it ended in a blank for both of us. Next time, for sure. 

Before I go, I just wanted to share the best part of the day. It wasn't catching up with Ellis. It wasn't watching a large bird of prey circle really close above us. It wasn't the constant noise of the A64. It wasn't the "history" associated with Ellis's bait. 

Last time we fished, Ellis noticed my jealous gaze of his lunch. He got Carole, his wife, to make me, my own "all day breakfast butties" today. DELISH!! 

As John Smith would say - " Have it!!" 

Saturday 14 October 2023

Minn-ho ho ho

Date fished 14/10/2023

8.40am until 1.20pm

Myself and the kids decided to try our luck today on the river Swale. Rupe still wanted to catch his first chub and Martha was happy with anything she could call "Gary"! (No idea)

The rain had stopped and the river was high but certainly fishable. It was cold and clear as we jumped in the car with homemade flat sausage and cheese muffins. Rupe was up front on radio duty and picked Heart Christmas! At least the sunrise was nice.

A brisk walk to the river to warm up and we were soon fishing. Rupe was ledgering meat in a likely spot by some trees, whilst Martha and I watched on expectantly.

No bites came, but a big splash near a bush further down had us moving quickly there! No luck so we went to float fish for grayling. Martha and I ventured in the cold, clear water and trotted maggots in the morning sun.

It seemed that the Friday 13th bad luck had rolled over, we were having all of it! 

The cold wind picked up and made trotting difficult. There was only one thing for it, we stopped for biscuits and hot juice! 

Another swim and Martha trotted whilst I fed maggots. She reeled in and was surprised to see "Gary" on the end. 

Rupe wanted some minnow action and soon he had two to his name. They declared themselves off the blank! 

One last try at the tree swim, we had primed it earlier so was hoping a chub had come to investigate. Unfortunately Rupe's gentle cast found a snag so it was a quick re-tackle to fish again. A change to cheese paste still didn't tempt a take. Although camo Rupe was hard to spot now! 

We had a great day even without some proper "Gary's". And we sung about snow, spaceships and enquiring if people were aware what day it was... all the way home! 

Saturday 23 September 2023

The right path

Date fished 23/9/2023

7.30am until 1.30pm

I checked the weather earlier in the week and it said 0% chance of rain for saturday. I took that to mean it would not rain!

The heavy rain in the week meant the rivers were up and down, fishable (probably) but I decided to stay local and head to tilcon. 

On the morning whilst eating my breakfast I checked the weather. 30% chance of rain, I packed the rain coat!! I drove to the lake and was pleasantly surprised to see the changes. I had seen on Facebook pics but not seen for myself. 

Where there was a high steep bank before, a path had been cut away behind all the car park swims. I believe it will also help pole anglers when shipping back, but for me it made easy access to the swim. Another angler had just arrived and was in peg six, so I decided to fish in four, I have never fished it before. 

I had float and ledger rods with worm, maggots, sweetcorn, bread and pellets. I did leave the kitchen sink at home! I also had a mix of micro pellets, breadcrumb and groundbait for the feeder. 

The feeder was cast to an island to my left whilst I float fished in front of me. As usual, I didn't really concentrate on either. I would watch one whilst the other moved and vice versa. The drizzle started and was fairly persistent, I was actually pretty wet, I was happy though. 

As I watched the float, I noticed the back ground moving. A large island that I thought was fixed was slowly moving across the lake. In my head, I thought the fish must all be under it, pushing it and using it to run away! 

Eventually I connected with a bob of the float. 

The other angler got smashed up by a carp and decided to pack up. He gave me his bait and I thought it rude not to also jump in his vacated swim. The sun came out and I was soon dry again. First cast another perch. I finished on 10 perch, the biggest being the first one above. Nothing big, but sometimes it's nice to just sit and chill. 

Monday 18 September 2023

Chub or dace? Who cares?

Yes, I know its a perch 

Date fished 17/09/2023
8am until 5pm

I had not fished with or seen Ellis since December last year. DIY, work and Dorset being the reasons.  Today we met up on the Tees, travelling light with float gear, a few different baits and plenty to catch up on. I arrived at my usual 'early' time and Ellis was already parked up and sorting his gear! What was going on?? 

I needn't of worried, I was ready first and waited for him to faff about, just returning to the parked cars once.
We walked down to the river, to see how it looked. 
Perfect! The answer.

We walked a way and soon found a beach area where we could tackle up then both fit in and fish. The river was fast but we started to fish. Second trot through, I lost a fish. A good sign! 

As we fished a few metres apart, Ellis saw an otter spring from the bank and plunge into the river between us! We watched the bubbles as it swam away. 
A few chublets each here and it was time to move on. I still question every dace or chub but they never confirm what they are!

The second swim we tried again produced fish. It was also quite fast. A fast channel with a slower still bit by the bank where some trees had fallen in and to the left side of the fast channel cut towards the main flow in the river. It turned out to be a fish highway. 

I fished the left side, Ellis the right. I lost a fish whilst Ellis got snagged and had to tackle up again. A size 16 being the best!  I caught a roach from the faster bit that looked like it would only produce grayling. I also caught grayling.

The second much bigger than the first, caught on worm

Ellis tried bread, I have watched many a youtuber catch a lot of fish on bread, it looks so simple. It didn't prove effective today.

A change to worm on the hook, and my float buried and something bigger pulled back. The fast water helping the fish. I played it a while until the 2lb hook link snapped. Gutted.
Ellis was back and fishing, we were both catching fish, then it was his turn for a big one. He played it longer than I did, but then his hook came out. Gutted times 2.
Our luck changed and soon bigger fish found the net, we both had some nice perch from the fast water. 

Ellis noted the fallen trees in the now slack water, the river was dropping. He was sure the perch would be here. As I trotted he cast a worm to the still water and lake fished on the river! It worked and his float sailed away at least five times and a perch his reward every time. 
The faster section was still producing, and as a bird of prey, we are gonna say buzzard, but we "don't know our birds of prey" circled above us my float dipped away. A big smile on Ellis's face as he saw before me. A gonk the surprise! 

As close to a Tees barbel as we have ever come! 
We were chatting and laughing as hard as we were fishing, putting the world to rights as the maggots tumbled through the water. The sun broke through the clouds and the fishing didn't stop. A crazy 10 minutes brought chublets (everyone questioned about being dace) on a bite a chuck basis. Roach also kept featuring. 

Such was the fishing or maybe it was being out of practice, but my arm started to ache. We could of emptied the river here, that was my answer to Carole's question "have you caught anything yet?" But we decided to move on. 

We walked to the swim Ellis fished last time. In those conditions on that day, it was the first fishable swim we got to. Today was very different. We fished a swim each, shouting distance apart. Both from the bank now, allowing our waders to dry, glad my trousers were still dry, gotta love my new waders! Casting mid river and feeding breadcrumb, as it was much slower here, we both caught roach, chublets and perch. Nothing massive, but it was nice in the sun and great to be out fishing with Ellis again. 

Ellis thought we had some dace, I thought they were all chublets. On reflection, who cares? We certainly don't. We just had a great time fishing!

N.b I actually think Ellis was right, I think some were dace!! Ffs, seems I do care...........